What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stressful situations. But in some cases, it becomes excessive and can cause sufferers to dread everyday situations.

This type of steady, all-over anxiety is called Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Other anxiety-related disorders include panic attacks—severe episodes of anxiety which happen in response to specific triggers—and obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is marked by persistent invasive thoughts or compulsions to carry out specific behaviors (such as hand-washing).

Anxiety so frequently co-occurs with depression that the two are thought to be twin faces of one disorder. Like depression, it strikes twice as many females as males.

Generally, anxiety arises first, often during childhood. Evidence suggests that both biology and environment can contribute to the disorder. Some people may have a genetic predisposition to anxiety; however, this does not make development of the condition inevitable. Early traumatic experiences can also reset the body’s normal fear-processing system so that it is hyper-reactive to stress.

The exaggerated worries and expectations of negative outcomes in unknown situations that typify anxiety are often accompanied by physical symptoms. These include muscle tension, headaches, stomach cramps, and frequent urination. Behavioral therapies, with or without medication to control symptoms, have proved highly effective against anxiety, especially in children.

Recent Posts on Anxiety

Survive the Nightmare of Weeknight Cooking

By Zanthe Taylor M.F.A. on October 09, 2015 A Million Meals
We have more food options than any previous generation of parents, but if you give your child take-out, pre-packaged or processed food every day, you are at risk of having your Good Parenting card revoked. Changing a few things about your routine and attitude can make a big improvement in how you feel about that dreadful parade of family meals stretching past the horizon.

Sometimes We Can't Put a Positive Spin on Our Troubles

By Allison Carmen on October 09, 2015 The Gift of Maybe
Sometimes it is hard to see the positive side of life when you feel disappointed or an unexpected event leaves you feeling alone and groundless. You want to feel optimistic but you just don’t see how life will change or what could possibly make things better. This is a perfect moment to let Maybe into your life.

Be Slick, Do Less, Get More

We have found that the irony of caregiving and caretaking is that the worst form of rip-off is does not occur when we give too much—what's better than a well-earned and -nursed grudge? What's more gratifying that a well-placed blast of righteous indignation? No, the real relational fleecing, the true shakedown, comes from having our own contributions declined.

The Scary Truth About Procrastination

By Bobby Hoffman Ph.D. on October 08, 2015 Motivate!
Sometimes finding out the root cause of our behaviors can be downright frightening. Beware the evil that lurks in the minds of the prospective procrastinator!

Ridding Happiness Contaminant 2: LHT Anxiety

While we have to endure all sorts of hassles and hardships in life, we need not experience anxiety about them. Learn how to never turn a hardship into a horror and thus never fall prey to anxiety.

Courage in Relationships: Conquering Vulnerability and Fear

It’s a profound—and paradoxical—truth that courage isn’t really courage at all unless there’s some fear attached to it. Without a moment’s hesitation before taking on something felt as hazardous, the act would exemplify not so much courage as foolhardiness or mindless impulsivity. As Mark Twain put it: “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear."

Ego Defence Mechanisms: The Work of Anna Freud

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on October 07, 2015 A Sideways View
We all try to protect our ego from attack. But are our preferred defences effective and healthy? What are the defence mechanisms and how can we categorise them?

Overcome Feeling Like a Fraud or Failure

Success often brings unexpected anxieties and feelings of being a fraud. When this happens, you may press for more accomplishments or accolades. But this only seems to perpetuate your anxieties. Despite what it seems, there is a way out of the seemingly unending self-doubt and self-criticism.

Journalists Can Be Nearly as Prone to PTSD as Combat Vets

By Eric Newhouse on October 06, 2015 Invisible Wounds
Recent studies show that war correspondents and photojournalists covering combat may have five times the normal rate of PTSD. Some national and international news organizations are now offering counseling to employees who are having trouble processing what they've seen on the job.

Becoming The Person I Drank to Be

By Anna David on October 06, 2015 After Party Chat
Everything I know how to do I learned in recovery. Through that, the personality I craved as a kid has revealed itself to be a part of me.

5 Reasons Suffering People Don’t Want to Try Medication

By Karen L Smith MSS, LCSW on October 04, 2015 Full Living
While it is true that we live in a world that too quickly turns to medication, it doesn't mean people with anxiety and depressive disorders should go without. This may be our one and only life; it is worth removing barriers to our contentment.

An Overwhelmed Graduate Student

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on October 04, 2015 How To Do Life
A transcript of a part of my session with a client. Many lessons embedded.

Do You Work for a Demanding 'Type A' Boss?

By Victor Lipman on October 03, 2015 Mind of the Manager
Type A managers, of which there are many, can at times be impatient, stressful, and plain old hard to work for. Here are practical tips to help you survive, and even succeed.

5 Reasons Not to Fear Public Speaking

By Victor Lipman on October 02, 2015 Mind of the Manager
Great speakers are made, not born (as are plain old good ones). Consider the examples of this famous five. All overcame significant public speaking confidence problems — and so can you.

Get in Touch With Your Core Value

The rewards for staying true to your deepest values are great: Authenticity, conviction, long-term wellbeing. And the reminders for violating them are terrible: guilt, shame, anxiety, regret, feeling inadequate or unlovable.

9 Indications Your Psychotherapy May Need A Tune-Up

How do I know when my therapy is deadlocked? The following discussion was provoked by feedback we received on a blog entry on the “doctor-patient relationship,” and provides food for thought for both therapists and their patients.

Rampage as a Team Instinct

By Kirby Farrell Ph.D. on October 01, 2015 A Swim in Denial
Humans have evolved powerful social bonding that shows up in group rivalry and team spirit. In civilization, where strangers can live together, the lethal competition of warfare is safely symbolized in team sports such as football. In rampage killing, as in the Roseburg Oregon massacre, that symbolic quality breaks down.

4 Things Not to Say to Someone with an Anxiety Disorder

Saying this to someone with an anxiety disorder is unhelpful and stigmatizing.

Don’t Let Shame Weaken Your Retirement Plans

How can you get power to save for retirement? Retirement planning is possible. Three tips that will empower anyone to plan better without despair and shame.

The Essence of Managing Anxiety

Stress, anxiety and worry make us uneasy and can derail efforts to stay calm. Here are 10 simple ways to keep calm can make it possible to carry on even in difficult situations.

13 Easy Ways to Jumpstart Your Boring Life

By Donna Barstow on October 01, 2015 Ink Blots Cartoons
Routines can be comforting, but when every day looks the same, that can be a danger signal.

A Philosophical Cure for Anxiety

By Neel Burton M.D. on September 30, 2015 Hide and Seek
By facing up to death we can escape from the pettiness and paralysis of anxiety.

Does Uncertainty Breed Prejudice?

By Nathan A Heflick Ph.D. on September 30, 2015 The Big Questions
How does the quest for certainty impact prejudice towards people who do not belong to our social groups?

Replication Crisis?

By Nathan A Heflick Ph.D. on September 30, 2015 The Big Questions
Psychology studies are finding difficult to replicate. Is it time to panic, or due we just need greater appreciation for the complexity of human psychology?

Dreadful Companions Called Fear, Guilt and Shame

Along with anger comes companion emotions that need to be examined as you heal from your eating disorder or disordered eating. Anger can be an immediate response to pain in your life. Fear, guilt and shame, however, follow close behind.

Is It Time To Worry When Flight Attendants Are Told To Sit?

By Tom Bunn L.C.S.W. on September 30, 2015 Conquer Fear Of Flying
If if the turbulence is expected to be light, pilots try to turn the seat belt sign on early. This is because the flight attendants must put away loose items in the galley and stow the serving carts before they are seated.

How Are Human Traits Linked to Specific Brain Connections?

By Christopher Bergland on September 30, 2015 The Athlete's Way
Researchers at Oxford University have identified that positive and negative human traits are linked to specific brain connections.

Students: Microaggression and Trigger-Warnings

By Leon Pomeroy Ph.D. on September 30, 2015 Beyond Good and Evil
Folie à Plusieurs in the 21st Century!

Success in New Situations: Five Key Skills

Ever find yourself reluctant to meet new people and join new groups? Get better at these five fundamental newcomer skills and you’ll be more willing to put yourself out there and take advantage of life’s opportunities.

The Sources of Fear Perception

By Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. on September 29, 2015 Science of Choice
The development and maintenance of anxiety is jointly determined by the relative strength of emotional brain and cognitive capacity to control unwanted responses.